We stand in solidarity with the women* of Poland

DiEM25 strongly condemns the recent court ruling on restricting abortions!

*inclusive of trans, queer and non-binary people

Today marks the eighth day of protests sweeping across Poland following the Constitutional Court’s decision on 22 October to ban abortion almost completely. Prior to the court’s decision last week, access to abortion in Poland was already the most restricted in the European Union, being available only in cases of rape, incest, severe foetal abnormality or threat to the mother’s life.

On 22 October, the Court ruled that abortion on the grounds of ‘severe and irreversible foetal defect or incurable illness that threatens the foetus’ life’ is unconstitutional, thereby practically eliminating the grounds upon which the majority of abortions in Poland are currently undertaken. It is estimated that up to 2,000 women in Poland access abortions per year, around 98% of cases on the basis of severe foetal defect. It is also estimated that around 100,000 Polish women per year seek abortions abroad.

The ruling comes despite criticism of the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court, as well as the widespread power-grabbing measures taken by the right-wing Catholic PiS government since they came into power in 2015, removing completely the independence of the judiciary. Poland is not the only country going in this direction, as we see with the US Supreme Court.

This is not the first time that Poland has sought to ban abortion.

In 2016, a proposed ban was halted after nationwide protests, calling into question the motivation behind the timing of this year’s decision in the midst of a global pandemic, when mass gatherings have been restricted in Warsaw to just 10 people.

In 2017 the European Commission launched proceedings against Poland due to breaches of the rule of law and concerns relating to lack of independence of the judiciary, yet the Commission noted in September this year that “concerns over the independence and legitimacy of the Constitutional Tribunal” remain unresolved.

As well as seeking to curb women’s rights, PiS has also been vocal in its attack of what it calls “LGBT ideology,” banning the education of homosexuality in schools and cancelling Pride marches. It has encouraged the creation of “LGBT-free zones,” which cover almost a quarter of the country. The government has sent additional funds to towns from which the EU has withdrawn financing since declaring themselves “LGBT-free.”

Thousands of Poles have taken to the streets to voice their anger against the latest attack on human rights in their country.

Meanwhile, police are using pepper spray against protestors. The prime minister publicly responded by calling the protests ‘acts of aggression’.

On Tuesday, an opposition party member led a protest on the floor of the Polish parliament, with protestors wearing T-Shirts bearing the red lightning bolt Women’s Strike symbol, and holding placards stating ‘This is War.’ It remains to be seen who will win the long-running fight for human rights in Poland.

We as DiEM25 stand with the basic human rights of people to make decisions concerning their own health and body, and demand that the European Union take immediate action on this attack to its own fundamental principles.

See the map of protests taking place across the world against the abortion ban. 

Are you interested in the work of our Taskforce on Feminism, Diversity and Disabilities? Join our Taskforce and help develop pan-European policies and campaigns for this critical area of our movement by going to the member’s area.

Photo Source: the Toronto Star.

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